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A former member of the President's Economic Advisory Council said last night that George McGovern is "very short on specifics and too long on denunciations."
Hendrik Houthakker, professor of Economics and former member of the Council, said at a debate sponsored by H--R Economists on Republican and Democratic economic policies that "the President must be first a politician."
"His primary job is to find reasonable solutions to the nation's problems. 'Moral outrage' often has to take second place to feasibility," Houthakker said.
Houthakker debated Lester Thurrow, professor of Economics at MIT and economic adviser to McGovern. Thurrow admitted that he came prepared to discuss "where do we go from here, now that Nixon has won?"
Thurrow charged that Nixon is "amoral" because he formulated his policies by the drift of public opinion polls, citing the abandonment of the Negative Income Tax plan. "He should lead the public opinion polls rather than follow them. The welfare program needs federalizing," he said.
Houthakker answered that Nixon would probably go back to his plan after the election because of necessity. He agreed with Thurrow that the Negative Income Tax failed because of the sharp criticism McGovern drew for his liberal $1000 dollar per person plan.
Thurrow, like Houthakker, attributed the failure of McGovern's campaign to the number of programs that were continually proposed, and because of a "cultural shock factor."
"Many Democrats could not accept a man who was supported by people like Jane Fonda and Bella Abzug," he said.
Thurrow said that Nixon would most likely concentrate on foreign policy in the next four years, and predicted that the President would leave economic matters to various councils. He said that a tax increase, and probably some kind of provision to close the tax loopholes, would be imminent.
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